Stress, Resilience, Stigma and Barriers to Mental Health Care in AF Nursing Staff


Name: Stephen Hernandez

Rank: Lt Col

Organization: University of New Mexico Health Science Center

Performance Site: University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque, NM; 779MDG/SGN, Joint Base Andrews, MD; 60MDG/SN, Travis Air Force Base, CA; 88MDG/SGN, Wright Patterson Air, Force Base, OH

Year Published: 2014

Abstract Status: Final


The specific aim of this investigation is to assess perceived stigma and barriers to accessing mental health services, stress, and resilience among active component Air Force (AF) nursing personnel (46XX/4NX). The goal is to use study findings to develop and test intervention(s) that reduce stigma and barriers to care, decrease stress, and promote resilience. These findings may inform policy to encourage access to mental health services, if necessary, to assure the health of caregivers and improve the retention of personnel.

A descriptive comparative design will be utilized to investigate these perceptions with AF registered nurses (46XX) and medical technicians (4NX) at the 60th, 88th, and 779th Medical Groups. The principal investigator (PI) has received the support of the Chief Nurse (CN) of each Medical Group. Each CN has provided guidance and approval of the PI’s electronic memorandum that will be sent to potential participants via e-mail. This memorandum is an invitation to participate, provide study information, and provide a uniform resource locator and instructions to complete the secure, anonymous electronic survey.

The PI will travel to each site to speak with available AF nursing staff and answer potential participants’ questions. After these sessions are completed, supporting staff designated by each CN will e-mail the memorandum to potential participants at each location. Personnel who choose to participate will be asked to complete the survey which includes demographic items, the Britt and Hoge et al. Stigma scale, Hoge et al. Barriers to Care scale, Conner-Davidson-25 Resilience scale, and Perceived Stress Questionnaire. These scales have acceptable reliability and validity and have been utilized in past research with military personnel. The survey should take approximately 10-15 minutes for each participant to complete. The survey will be administered through the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center Clinical Translational Science Center (UNM HSC CTSC) Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap™) program. The REDCap™ program allows participants to complete the survey through most electronic devices with internet access. Participant responses will be stored on the secure REDCap™ server at the UNM HSC CTSC, and IBM® SPSS® will be used to conduct the statistical analysis of the data collected.

Perceptions of stigma and barriers to care, stress, and resilience may influence the health and readiness of nursing personnel and the care they provide to military beneficiaries. This study design will allow for a larger, more diverse sample to extend previous preliminary work that assessed AF nursing personnel’s perceptions of stigma and barriers to accessing mental health care. Additionally, the study will serve as a foundation to build a program of study focused on the unique population of military nurses and medical technicians.


Final Report is available on NTRL: